Cultivating Kindness On the Mat: Ahimsa
In ancient yoga philosophy, there is a series of ethical guidelines (Yamas and Niyamas) to help us live a happy, healthy and full-filling life. In our modern world, where the physical asana (posture) practice is most popular, these guidelines can be thought about particularly on the mat and can be transferred to life off the mat, too. Another fabulous way in which yoga can help our everyday lives!
One of these guidelines is called Ahmisa or, non-harming and in our everyday physical sessions it can be applied to the attitude and way in which you approach your body in each movement. It's about having kindness for yourself, as well as the attitude you have about others in the yoga room. Put simply, it's the practice of popping the ego to one side and allowing lots of love to filter through for yourself and the community around you.
Here's a few ways in which you can cultivate kindness in your next yoga session and practice Ahimsa:
Knowing and taking appropriate action when it's time to challenge yourself V when it's time to slow down
Using props and not being afraid to, to get the most out of the postures for your body
Approaching injured body parts with a sensible attitude, not pushing it if something hurts or feels unnatural
Taking modification options
Understanding that everyone has their own reasons for doing yoga and all our bodies are different.
Why practice Ahimsa in yoga?
Remembering and doing the above in your next yoga session,will eventually mean you will get the most benefit out of the class through listening to your body and doing what feels good, rather than painful and uncomfortable. Ultimately, your physical body will be moving in soothing ways rather than heading for injuries, potentially making you feel frustrated and agitated at the end of the session. You'll also likely have a beaming smile on your face too and that just makes anyone feel good!
Of course, for many, yoga does not just end in the session, it can be a way of life and Ahimsa can be practiced daily in other activity or work and relationships. I am not qualified to be able to give you advice about how to do that, though, I'll leave that up to you, to take home all that you've learnt and explore how you can apply it in whatever way you choose off the mat.
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